Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wanna Change The World? There's Nothing To It

For a week and a half, I have been singing.

It's been a while since I felt like singing, but Gene pulled it out of me.

I don't want to say that "I'm Back" for fear of stirring up expectations in my former readers that I will fail to fulfill. However, I can admit that I have recently done some REAL woodworking.

I think this is my first blog entry of 2010. Last year, I did about 26. The year before that I did 99.

I got the new house in January of 2009, and although the movers carried thousands of pounds of equipment and lumber down to the 1800 square foot basement, that capacious space has remained much more a basement than a shop (or studio) throughout 2009.

During 2009, my only week-long class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking was Marquetry. So even though I learned an amazing craft during that week, that class didn't force me to run a 220V line or put together a dust collector pipe system at home.

Last Fall, when the 2010 MASW schedule was produced, one class stood out to me. BUILDING A CURVED FRONT WRITING DESK WITH CHRIS GOCHNOUR. Chris is one of the best. I have lauded him before, but every compliment is truth. It is staggering how much work one can accomplish in 5 days with Chris, given how well prepared he is, along with his willingness to work as many hours as his students desire. Best of all, Chris Gochnour is one of the nicest guys on the planet.

The week immediately after Easter was the 5 day class, and the students had received a cut list to guide the preparation of the surfaced material we were to bring to class. This cut list served as my incentive to assemble my jointer, tablesaw, chop saw, planer, and dust collector. Waiting until just days before the start of class, I began putting my shop together, and I successfully processed enough saw dust to have surfaced lumber for my class.

Then, for five days, while my buddy (the class brown-nose) Joe Brumley and I sat at the back of the class telling jokes, Chris Gochnour guided the group through leg shaping, bent wood lamination, carcass assembly, table top glue-ups, drawer fitment, dovetailing, and final shaping.

My drawers aren't done yet. I told a few too many jokes. I had a little too much fun talking to students in other classes. I informed Marc Adams which of his possessions I have dibs on should I somehow outlive him. I also rediscovered what woodworking means to me and why it was I first embraced this craft 6 years ago.

My drawers aren't done, but I know how to make them. Also, I have the tools to make them down in my shop. Because as Easter commemorates the resurrection of the Messiah, the week after Easter 2010 saw the resurrection of my Passion for the Messiah's early (Earthly) vocation, woodworking.

My life outside the shop is unchanged. The job is still there, and I am glad. It provides joy, challenge, fulfillment, and CASH. Most of my problems are still there. Nevertheless, my smile is a little more sincere since I rediscovered that my life has room for both a Corporate Profit & Loss Statement and a Spoke Shave.

Some might say that my week with Chris Gochnour wasn't very artistic since I was just copying his desk and not truly designing my own. My only response is that comebacks should be paced and orderly. I am ok with my choice to hang out with my friend Chris and simply remake his desk as my own.

I am not always as tolerant of re-makes, though. I remember a few years ago when I heard Tim Burton was remaking Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory....I bristled. That movie didn't need another version. And when I eventually saw the Burton version with Johnny Depp, I felt even more strongly that Gene Wilder's performance in 1971 was strong enough to last at least a millennium or two before anyone else needed to make it their own. Then again, what do I know, I was originally opposed to the Squeakquel to Alvin and the Chipmunks.

And so it was a couple of weeks ago, as my vacation wound down and I prepared to return to the office that I saw an AT&T commercial that started me singing.

Gene's voice came through the speakers and reminded me of our magical world that is so often obscured by life.

I still only have 168 hours a week. But along with work, yelling at the neighbor kids, feeding my Webkinz, and cutting the grass...I still have time to take responsibility for my own life. And I am making the choice to be who I have always been...the little 5 year old kid with the big blue eyes who would look adults squarely in the face and unblinkingly inform them that when he grew up, he was going to be the President of the United States.... or a Fire Fighter... or a Fighter Pilot... depending on what day of the week it was. I may have a strand or two of grey hair starting to pop up, but on the inside I am still 5 years old. I still have big blue eyes. And I choose to use those eyes to see the world....

The World of Pure Imagination.

I leave you (today) with a classic original.

Pure Imagination
by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three

Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you'll see
Into your imagination

We'll begin with a spin
Traveling in the world of my creation
What we'll see will defy explanation

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world?
There's nothing to it

There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there you'll be free
If you truly wish to be

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world
There's nothing to it

There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there you'll be free
If you truly wish to be


Murphy said...

Ah, what happened to our sardonic old friend? Gail, did Jeff bump his head while bike riding or join some, gasp, support group? All this talk of Gene Wilder and the Messiah is cause for at least a little concern.

P.S. Glad you are doing well Jeff.

Jeff Skiver said...

Actually, if you look closely at the photo of me with my desk you will see a massive cut across my nose where a 6" PVC pipe I was hanging as part of my dust collection system fell and hit me.

However, there haven't been any "special" moments in my life lately...other than the fact that Eric Heisman and I was down in Mexico a couple of weeks ago and seen some UFO's. There must have been about 40 of 'em flyin' in formation.

In reality, the benefit of including the Messiah reference was two-fold. It made my mother happy, and it showed how well read I am.

I suppose I am still me, though.

Because within 16 hours of publishing this blog entry, I was toe to toe and gut to nose with a dwarf threatening to beat him up if he didn't stop F&*$in' with me.

Why am I the only guy that has incidents like that?

Anonymous said...


Nice desk, regardless of its designer. You made it. That's all that matters.

Nice also to see that you've found it within your creative and ebbing process to learn, renew, and post again. I too have taken some time off from woodworking and am trying now to spend some time using up what's in the shop to start anew.

Isn't it funny that there's an ebb and flow in relationships that must somehow find their place before we are able to truly focus and enjoy things that are fulfilling?

I am reminded of Diogenes. The ultimate cynic. Did you know that the word cynic comes from a Greek word that was an adjective of the word "dog"?

My gosh, do I digress.

How is your family? How is Gail? How is your dog? How are your relationships?

Welcome back.

Anonymous said...


Jeff Skiver said...

Oh, Anonymous, what would I do without your witty one liners? (Actually, today yours seem to be witty one word-ers.)

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion, but it's not necessary. My flora and fauna are balancing nicely, and all is fresh.

Perhaps that is something there in Virginia that smell "not so fresh."

Folks, this (having to deal with email and comments like this) is why I just don't have time for this shit anymore.

Anonymous said...


Tom Dreher said...

That tune brought a tear to my eye (nearing 70) but could not remember the source. Now I'll be humming this forever (can't sing - too embarrassing).

Everything you wrote about Chhris is spot-on. Must be the mountains he lives in.

Glad to have you back.


B said...

OK, so you`ve gotten your damn little sond stuck in my head, it`s been weeks now ..."Come with me, and you`ll see..." It`s always there. Mowing the yard, working in the shop, taking a s...


I keep hearing the voices in my head singing, seems that I`ve actually been busted singing along with them (not that this is a bad thing, we do have a wicked harmony going..)

So anywho....this is all your fault, I`m not gonna take the rap for what happens from here on out....